Feliz Dia del Gracias! While Honduras doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, many of the American providers working at the hospital continue the tradition abroad. We have learned many new Honduran cultural celebrations such as Honduran Independence Day which we wrote about back in September. We have also been learning more about local Honduran customs.
For example, there are many superstitions about pregnancy and the newborn baby. Frequently the mother will put cotton in her ears and cover her head with a towel after giving birth. Also, the newborn babies are always dressed in red as they are discharge from the hospital and continue to wear the color for several weeks to months. They usually have a red piece of cloth tied around their little bellies or around the wrist. All of these clothes and cotton are used to protect against evil spirits.
Along with following superstitions, many of our patients use mountain and herbal remedies for common illnesses. One patient that visited me in clinic just a few weeks ago had been taking herbal treatments for her rheumatoid arthritis for 8 years with worsening symptoms. This autoimmune disease attacks the joints in the body causing swelling, pain, eventual bone erosion and deformation. When she arrived at the hospital she could not sit down or stand up without assistance from her husband due to the pain and swelling in her body. The walk from the waiting room to my clinic was long and slow and I could see that every step was an effort that caused excruciating pain. This meant that even the smallest task in her home was impossible – forget cooking and cleaning, she couldn’t even go to the bathroom without help.
The mountain treatments that she had been taking were not helping, and after a month of starting on the correct medication there was a marked difference in her. Gone was the slow shuffle down the hallway to my clinic room. She walked briskly and without assistance! There was a smile on her face as she showed me how much more she could move her arms and legs. In our conversation she was quick to thank the hospital and the Lord for her improvement.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of correct treatment for so many years, her hands likely have permanent joint damage and she still struggles to bend her fingers. We are working toward improved functionality and I look forward to seeing how she is doing after her next office visit since her medication has been adjusted. Even with her continued (although decreased) pain and disability she continues to have a bright smile upon her face.
Jeremiah 30:19 says “From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing.”
This sweet patient has rightly given the Lord true thanks and credit for the improvement in her joints.
In the spirit of thanksgiving I am reminded of all the patients that we have had the privilege of caring for. We are thankful that God has and continues to provide the resources, energy, heart and mindset we need to serve here in Honduras. The Lord is faithful! We are also thankful for you, our family and friends, who have faithfully loved, encouraged and walked along side of us. Each of you is a vital part of the ministry God is doing here in Honduras to bring healing to the sick and the good news of the gospel.
Alisa and Andrew